Don’t Change Your Husband: Divorce in Early Chinese Movies

16 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009 Last revised: 16 Sep 2009

See all articles by Alison W. Conner

Alison W. Conner

William S. Richardson School of Law

Date Written: 2007


This Article analyzes the depiction of divorce in pre-1949 Chinese movies. During the 1930s and 1940s, a golden age for early Chinese cinema, divorce often figured in movie plots, just as it does in China today. These movies reflect the changing roles of men and women, along with the new freedoms the Civil Code granted women to marry freely and (for the first time) to divorce. Thus, in most of the movies, including the famous Long Live the Missus, it is the wife who initially seeks the divorce or starts divorce proceedings. But the films also reflect ambivalence towards women’s new rights, and only the most selfish of wives actually leave their husbands. The issues these movies raise have much to say to us today, when women’s equality and the true meaning of personal freedom, still imperfectly achieved, remain difficult issues in China.

Keywords: divorce, cinema, China, movies

Suggested Citation

Conner, Alison W., Don’t Change Your Husband: Divorce in Early Chinese Movies (2007). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 40, No. p. 1245, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Alison W. Conner (Contact Author)

William S. Richardson School of Law ( email )

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